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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

6 - Crown and government

from Part II - Government


In this chapter and the next we focus on government. For the most part we consider British government, although reference is made from time to time to government in the devolved administrations. This chapter mainly concerns the ‘architecture’ – the institutions, personnel and structure – of British government. In it, we consider the constitutional positions of the Crown, the monarchy, the Prime Minister, Cabinet and other ministers, and civil servants. In the next chapter we move on to examine the various powers of British government, paying particular attention to the government’s rule- and law-making powers.

The Crown

We saw in chapter 1 that constitutional thought and doctrine in the United Kingdom have largely dispensed with the concept of the state. Instead of the state we have the Crown, which serves as a central, organising principle of government. The Crown may denote the Queen in her constitutional role, but more broadly it ‘personifies the executive government of the country’ (Diplock LJ in BBC v Johns [1965] Ch 32, 79): it is associated with the idea of executive authority rather than with that of the common interest. The major public powers are vested in the Crown or, more commonly, in ministers who, in strict theory, are servants of the Crown.